Delhiwale: Shikanji for connoisseurs | delhi news | Hindustan Times
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Delhiwale: Shikanji for connoisseurs

The old-world lemonade machines give this humble drink an exotic twist

delhi Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:02 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
A shikanji walla stands behind his old-world shikanji machines — the tall cylindrical vessel often wrapped in red cloth.
A shikanji walla stands behind his old-world shikanji machines — the tall cylindrical vessel often wrapped in red cloth.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

It is not easy to turn life’s everyday experiences into art. Everybody can make shikanji at home by squeezing lemon into water, but the truly cultivated Delhiwallas ought to go out into the city’s streets and look for shikanji sellers.

Not the cold water trolley vendors who make shikanji on request, but the shikanji wallas standing behind their old-world shikanji machines — the tall cylindrical vessel often wrapped in red cloth.

These stalls are increasingly harder to spot but a lemonade aesthete will find pleasure in the quest.

The vessel, layered with salted crushed ice, contains a steel jar filled with lemon drink. The jar’s tightly shut lid has a handle that the vendor holds while continually shaking it around the vessel, causing shikanji to cool down almost to freezing point.

Some shikanji stands have two people working the jar. It is astonishing to see such a blur of activity around the humble drink.

The shikanji walla serves the drink with a fresh squeeze of lemon. The next moment is miraculous. The drink’s iciness immediately jolts the soul into invigorating freshness.